Welcome to Business Corner: Mennonites in Osceola County

Welcome to Business Corner! This sign, erected in 2017 at the intersection of Osceola county roads M-18 and A-34, lists businesses in this area beginning in the late 1880s (not 1870s as the sign suggests). There was a gas station, but not until the late 1920s since the 1870s was before the existence of cars. There also was no general store or broom factory in early Business Corner days.

In the mid-1880s a number of Mennonite families arrived in Ocheyedan by train from Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada. They moved to this area of the county, bought land, and built barns and homes. The village closest to Business Corner is May City, established in 1889.

Daniel and Fannie Weaver were among the first to arrive, building the historic barn seen in the background in 1889. The business sign says “Weaver Jeweler,” although Daniel was actually an optometrist who also made jewelry, clocks, and watches.

A blacksmith, shoemaker, wagon shop, harness shop, and cigar factory, as well as a church, school, and cemetery existed during the time the Mennonites lived in the area. All the buildings were painted red.

The colony was short-lived, due to disagreements over church affairs and differing customs they had when they arrived. By 1915 all but a few of the families had left the area. Today there are no Mennonites, except those buried in the Mennonite cemetery. 

Today this landmark barn, owned and restored by the Lorch family, serves as a reminder of early settlement.